What do new actors overlook when seeking representation?

When it comes to actors new to the business seeking representation, what are some things you feel actors overlook in getting representation? – James R.

I think the biggest problem actors have is, knowing who they are. Not who they think they are but who they really are. And where they fit in the business. When I first came to New York I thought I could play everything from a thirteen-year old girl to a ninety-five year old man. And maybe I could, but nobody was going to hire me for those roles. I didn’t have a clear idea of who I was or how I fit in.

I remember having an appointment with J. Michael Bloom, who at the time was one of the most powerful agents in New York. During our appointment I read some copy for him. The first time I read it, I read it with an English accent. He stopped me after two lines and said, “John, if I want an Englishman, I’ll get an Englishman. Try it again.”

The second time I read the same piece of copy as if I was a Brooklyn cab driver. Michael stopped me before I finished the first line and said, “John, if I want a Brooklyn cab driver, I’ll get a Brooklyn cab driver. What I want is you.”

And inside I thought, “Oh, no, not that. Anything but that,” because I didn’t have any idea who I was. It was two years before I got in to see J. Michael again. By then I had figured out who I was, what I had to offer and as a result I signed with Michael’s agency.

The people who run talent agencies are running a business. Yes, they’re looking for product and we are that product. But there is a lot of product out there. Put yourself in their position – who would you want to represent, someone who knows what their strengths are and has a clear vision of what they want or someone who is still stumbling around trying to figure out who they are?

Part of your job as an actor, besides having all of your skills in excellent shape, is to help the agent market you. I think this is one of the things that actors new to the business often overlook when it comes to seeking representation; you need to know who you are and what you have to offer. When you present yourself as a fully realized product, your agent can market you with confidence.

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